AT&T gets its AirOn over-the-air subscription management of its global M2M SIM

On 12 December 2012, AT&T announced that it would use SIM provider Giesecke & Devrient’s “AirOn” technology to enable AT&T’s global SIM for M2M and connected devices.


IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)On 12 December 2012, AT&T announced that it would use SIM provider Giesecke & Devrient’s (G&D) “AirOn” technology to enable AT&T’s global SIM for M2M and connected devices. AirOn is a remote SIM provisioning service that will enable AT&T to download local subscriptions – with local, in-country rates – to SIMs wherever local subscriptions are available from AT&T as a re-seller of a local MNO. IHS believes AT&T currently has such re-seller relationships in place in approximately 50 countries. Where AT&T does not have re-seller relationships available, the AT&T global SIM can still utilize AT&T’s roaming relationships with MNOs in over 200 countries.

Remotely- provisioned SIMs will play an increasingly important role in the M2M market. They provide key benefits, including: the potential for cost-optimization through tariff localization of globally-deployed SIMs (as in the case of AT&T), and supply-chain optimization for embedded SIMs. These so-called “white SIMs” are distinct from the concept of “soft SIMs” in that they retain use of an embedded hardware component, as opposed to being completely comprised of embedded software. This is a key point, owing to the MNOs’ concerns over the level of security that could be ensured by SIMs reliant on software alone, without an embedded hardware component. G&D, along with other SIM providers, show-cased proprietary white SIM technology at the Mobile World Congress 2012 tradeshow, but there are efforts to standardize the technology and IHS anticipates that such a standard will be available in the second half of 2013.

White SIM technology also underscores the growing importance of providing a global connectivity footprint for M2M deployments. Despite a historical prevalence of low volume, localized M2M applications, there is an increasing need for global deployability. This need is driven by the growth in highly mobile applications such as telematics and connected consumer electronics as well as the desire to provide a single SKU rather than create a multitude of SKUs localized to different countries. Several MNOs, including France Telecom/Orange, Vodafone, and Telenor Connexion, have launched global SIMs using the MCC 901 international IMSI range. While this facilitates global deployability such SIMs are still dependent on negotiated roaming rates between the host MNO and the roaming MNO. Consequently, white SIMs that can be homed onto a local network, either via a re-seller relationship or an inter-operator “alliance”, still offer the benefit of reducing tariffs. As such, IHS views white SIMs as the next logical progression in the optimization of global connectivity for M2M applications.

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